Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/6

Minutes of the Daily Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Thursday, February 6, 1919

  • Present:
    • Mr. Lansing
    • Mr. White
    • Mr. Herter

1. Mr. Herter brought to the attention of the Commissioners the decision which they had reached on February 4th,21 in regard to the present impossibility of rendering any assistance to Mr. Tredwell and Mr. Kalamatiano in Russia, and then read a memorandum prepared by Dr. Lord suggesting that the Bolsheviki be informed that

The American Government demands the immediate restoration of Mr. Tredwell;
That it insists upon its demand of Dec. 7th with regard to Mr. Kalamatiano;
That its future attitude towards the Soviets, particularly in the conference to which an invitation has been issued, must be materially influenced by the reply made to the present demands. Failure to comply with them could only be taken by us as an indication that the Soviets were minded neither to maintain justice at home nor to respect the rules of international law, and we should have to act accordingly.

Mr. Lansing observed that Dr. Lord’s suggestions were very good but that he did not see how they could possibly be conveyed to the Bolsheviki. The invitation to the Prinkipo conference had not been issued to the Bolsheviki alone, but to all factions in Russia, and the government of the United States had never had any official communications either directly or through a third power with the Bolsheviki. Mr. Lansing observed, however, that it might be possible for the American delegates to the Prinkipo conference to take up this question informally with the representatives of the Soviet government, but that until that moment nothing could be done.

It was decided that no action should be taken at the present time in the cases of Mr. Tredwell and Mr. Kalamatiano, but that this matter should be brought to the attention of the American delegates who might be sent to the proposed Prinkipo conference.

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2. Memorandum No. 42 was read enclosing a draft of a telegram to the Department of State at Washington regarding the granting of passports to the representatives of the Department of Agriculture who desire to travel abroad, and who may desire to enter the Central Empires before the final conclusion of peace.

The draft of telegram attached to Memorandum No. 42 was approved.

3. Memorandum No. 43 was read, which again brought up the question of increasing Mr. Sweetser’s salary as recommended in Memorandum No. 15 of January 31, 1919.22 There was also read a note from Mr. Ray Stannard Baker explaining in detail the necessity for increasing Mr. Sweetser’s salary. Mr. Lansing observed that in view of the further explanations which had been furnished in this matter he would be glad to see Mr. Sweetser’s salary raised to a figure amounting to the equivalent of an army Captain’s salary plus the 40 francs a day subsistence allowance which was allowed to officers attached to the Commission. Mr. Herter undertook to determine the exact figures involved.

It was decided that Mr. Sweetser’s salary should be increased to the equivalent of a Captain’s pay plus the equivalent of 40 francs per day.

4. Mr. Herter read Information Memorandum No. 6 as well as several extracts from the French press to indicate the attitude which that press was taking in regard to the President’s speech in the Chamber of Deputies and the feelings of America generally.

Mr. Lansing and Mr. White while expressing their indignation at the comments of the French press felt that it would be inadvisable to attempt any counteracting influence at the present time, that it would be better merely to ignore the whole question.

5. Information Memorandum No. 7 was read indicating Mr. Horvath’s point of view with regard to concluding an armistice with the Bolsheviks. Mr. Lansing stated that he agreed heartily with the opinion expressed that the Bolsheviks would undoubtedly violate the terms of any truce.

6. Memorandum No. 8 was read in regard to the views expressed in the Nichi Nichi on Japanese claims. Mr. Lansing observed that the attitude of the Japanese was extremely disquieting, particularly in its relation to China, and that he felt that this was the time for us to have it out once and for all with Japan. Mr. White added that the Japanese had undoubtedly viewed with great apprehension our tremendous war preparations during the present war and of course if it came to a direct issue between us Japan would be in a greatly inferior position because of her relatively inferior economic and financial strength. Mr. Lansing stated that this was absolutely true. He also stated that it was America’s duty to support China.

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7. Mr. Herter brought up again the question of Messrs. McCormick, Davis and Baruch receiving the [minutes of the] secret meetings of the conferences at the Quai d’Orsay, and stating that considerable ill feeling was being aroused at the fact of their not being allowed to receive these minutes. Mr. Lansing stated that the reason why the Commissioners had decided not to deliver a copy of these minutes to the gentlemen in question was not because of any mistrust or because of any desire that these gentlemen should not see them, but because it was considered inadvisable to distribute more copies than was absolutely necessary. He added however, that he had seen Mr. McCormick on this point last night. He proposed that a compromise should be reached by allowing Messrs. McCormick, Davis and Baruch to have one copy for their use, but that it should be specified that this copy should not leave the hotel and should be definitely charged to some responsible person in their office.

It was decided that one copy of the [minutes of the] secret meetings of the conference at the Quai d’Orsay should be distributed to one competent person in the office of either Mr. Davis, Mr. Baruch or Mr. McCormick and that this one copy should serve for the information of all three of these gentlemen.

  1. See minute 8, p. 16.
  2. See meeting of February 1, minute 3, p. 7.